Warning for Ferrari as Carlos Sainz refuses to back down over strategy calls

Thomas Maher
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

Carlos Sainz says he has no intentions of changing his approach to questioning Ferrari’s strategic calls over team radio.

Having started the Spanish Grand Prix from the front row, bringing hope to a jubilant home crowd that a Spaniard could win the race, Carlos Sainz had to endure a difficult race as the race pace of the SF-23 proved insufficient to challenge even for a podium.

Having been overcome by both Mercedes drivers and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Sainz came home in fifth place at the chequered flag on what was a tough day for the Scuderia as Charles Leclerc could only manage 11th in the second car.

Sainz was heard questioning the call to pit when Ferrari instructed him to pit on Lap 15, having started on the soft tyre compound –  much earlier than either of the Mercedes drivers – with Ferrari responding to stops from Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll.

Sainz just replied with “Why?” before making the stop, prompting the question of whether he and his strategists are on the same page about strategy when lining up on the grid for the start of a Grand Prix.

“No, but, you know, I like interacting and I like participating in the discussions,” Sainz told the official Formula 1 website.

It’s the second race weekend in which Sainz has been heard questioning the Ferrari pitwall, having got angry about the timing of a tyre change during last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“It’s my style of racing, and I will always be like that,” he continued.

“Today, I don’t think the pit stop timing did matter, we would have finished P5 with the pace we had, and with the degradation we had. So I do believe we did the right thing.”

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But, despite having questioned the stop, Sainz didn’t have any complaints about his strategy having any effect on his eventual finishing position, believing the pace of Mercedes and Red Bull was just too much for Ferrari to overcome.

“I think we actually maximised everything we had,” he said.

“I gave my absolute best, both at the start and the race pace, and I’m just a bit sad that we couldn’t put in a bit of a stronger defence on the Red Bull and the two Mercedes because they were just so much quicker than us that it wasn’t even worth fighting them.

“They would have passed me a lap later, one way or the other. So I did my absolute best but, unfortunately, this is what we have now.”

On Sunday, Sainz had posited that Ferrari had brought their upgrades to the “worst possible circuit” they could have, citing the SF-23’s inherent weakness at managing tyre degradation and high-speed corners.